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A two-day international conference, to guide the government efforts in redesigning the country’s constituency boundaries, got underway yesterday (June 2) at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay.
The conference is being hosted by the Electoral Advisory Committee (EAC) and includes participants from Canada, India, and other Caribbean territories as well as representatives from the International Federation of Electoral Systems.
According to EAC Chairman, Professor Errol Miller, the deliberations “are geared towards assisting the EAC to develop and document a set of guidelines, which would be presented to Parliament, as the recommended approach in redefining Jamaica’s constituency boundaries”.
He noted further, that the conference “comes against the background of a need for Jamaica to examine its constituency boundaries, in light of the probability of a dead heat or a tie between the two major political parties during a general election”.
Minister with Responsibility for Electoral Matters, Dr. Peter Phillips told the participants that government was committed to continuing the reform agenda so that citizens could have the fullest confidence in the integrity of the electoral results and processes.
“We have been able, as a country, to have a regular transfer of governmental authority by peaceful means through elections, not only since Independence but before . we take pride in this and we will do all we can to nurture this tradition of democracy, which is vibrant and robust,” Dr. Phillips said.
He announced that legislation to increase the number of constituencies from 60 to 63 would soon be tabled in Parliament.
“Shortly, Parliament will be presented with the enabling legislation in keeping with the recommendations of the Electoral Advisory Committee and of the Parliamentary Boundaries Committee, that the total number of constituencies in Jamaica should be an odd number, this, in order to obviate the possibility of a tie, which thankfully has not yet happened. The number will be 63 constituencies”, Minister Phillips pointed out.
Dr. Phillips, who is also National Security Minister, lauded the EAC, as a “beacon of real accomplishment and hope. It has .been one of the more enduring and one of the most successful of our home grown and home designed national institutions”, he noted.
He expressed the hope that there would be a successful conclusion to the conference and that the benefits of the deliberations would extend to the Jamaican people and the Jamaican electorate as a whole.